Phil looked at Sylvester, a tear glistening in his. He was thankful to whatever gods who watched over the earth that he was able to keep his son with him at least, he had lost his wife Sylvia during his son Sylvester’s birth he never blamed him, Phil believed in fate so he saw him as a great blessing.
Phil often wondered what his life would be like if his small toddler had not be around to keep him company; surely he would have lost his mind at this rate, he thought to himself. To keep Sylvester and himself company, he had bought a dog and taken in tenants to fill his large 6-bedroom Victorian house; the only place he had kept private was his loft, for Phil was an Artist and an Art Teacher and couldn’t bear the idea of not having a space to escape to in his house, couldn’t bare the idea of not being able to express himself.
One fine evening, Phil’s friends had come over for their regular visits. These had begun ever since Sylvia had died 7 years ago, an unspoken pact between Susan, Jabir and Matthew to meet every Friday, ever since they had witnessed the trauma Phil attempted to keep under wraps. Fridays were perfect, that’s when Phil came more into his own reality after playing a gimmick as a harsh and critical Art Teacher – he was able to get closer to who he really was.
So there they were, Phil, Sylvester, bon-bon (the dog), Susan, Jabir and Matthew were drinking tea in the large white studio in the loft and talking about Phil’s latest project, which didn’t seem all that fascinating but as usual was encouraged because it was good to see Phil lively.
“I just don’t see it.” said Matthew. Being an accountant didn’t make Matthew all the artistically inclined, instead it made him quite abrasive which didn’t always help the situation.
Susan glared at Matthew before turning and saying “I think it’s great Phil. A real body of work. Shows all the artistic expression of a true Monet or Van Gogh”; Susan was a primary school teacher and was prone to expressing moments of extreme sweetness that could have provided one with a toothache. Matthew scoffed and Jabir looked sympathetically at Phil, which hurt Phil more than Susan’s faux praise and Matthew’s obvious slating.
“Keep working on it mate. I’m sure it’ll get to where you want it to be” said Jabir, the ever encouraging dentist.
Phil sighed. He felt so misunderstood at times. “Can’t you see the artistic expression!?” he asked, flaying his arms with all the fanaticism of a street preacher. His friends, son and dog looked at the 3 strokes of blue paint, all in different shades, on the white canvas. Susan cocked her head to the side, Matthew rolled his and Jabir kept calm as if he knew a secret. Sylv and bonbon were used to this sudden surge of passion that consumed Phil every few days, so sat down on the upper landing on the loft and waited ’til Phil gathered himself.
“Anyway Phil, how’s Sylv and bonbon. I hope they’re doing well with the new tenants around?” Susan asked with a pinched but concerned face.
“Well they’re right in front of you Susan! Why do you like to be sensitive about everything!” Phil said as he fell into his armchair. Susan was hurt but knew to keep her concern under wraps.
“I think Susan was just trying to be sweet Phil, no one’s judging your parenting or owner skills” Jabir added helpfully, smiling at Susan, his University crush.
“Well I’ve had enough of The Arts for one day old fellow, I think I’m going to see how me wife and the kids are doing. And also attend to my massive stack of paper work… I guess one thing I do envy about you Phil is the type of work you do and the life it gives you.”
On that comment, Phil’s friends slowly trickled out the room giving their regular goodbyes and excuses.
Sylv looked at his father whilst playing with bonbon’s ears. He felt sorry for him. More developed than Phil noticed he was, Sylv would often sit silently when his father’s friends were around so he could have peace of mind, though as soon as they left he would watch his father fall back into the pit of depression that consumed him when he thought no one was looking. So Sylv did his usual. “Dad! Why don’t we go and pick berries in the garden! You promised we could do it this Friday after you came back from work.” he said excitedly. Phil looked up and smiled at his son; life is always brighter when he’s here, Phil thought to himself. “Of course my son! Let’s be on our way. Come bonbon, you small tyke… God you really are small aren’t you”
In jovial spirits, the three went to the garden to pick fruit and marvel at God’s creation (which of course was Phil’s artistic influence), when they overheard a conversation from the new tenants Phil had let his home to. It was the foster kids.
A few years ago, Phil had met Ms Bramley, a 54-year-old divorcee, who was making a living out of caring for disadvantaged kids via fostering but she had lost her house due to her divorce – her lone income wasn’t enough to carry the mortgage any longer. It was from there that her and Phil had agreed to have a temporary foster home for no more than 3 to 4 kids at a time. And so Phil wasn’t surprised to see Michael and Sadiq outside, he was however surprised at their conversation involving their new foster-brother, Sam.
“Yea, I heard he’s a fag mate” said Michael vehemently spitting on the ground.
“Ugh! No way do we have a fag living with us. It’s bad enough we have that fucking Psycho and his shit to deal with” chimed in Sadiq, always desperately to please Phil thought, rolling his eyes.
“Yea well, we’ll see tonight. Might always be that pretty boy, Derek, he brings to the house. Let’s sneak up on them tonight. I hate all that gay shit!”
Sylv’s heart dropped when he heard how Sadiq spoke about his father… Well his metaphorical heart.
Phil, perturbed by what he had just heard, headed back into his house and headed somewhere he hadn’t been to in a while – the bedroom shared between himself and Sylvia.
As he ran his hand over the rosewood bed stand with its gothic engravings, a favourite of Sylvia’s, his mind flashed back to the day he lost Sylvia and his 3 kids. The fateful car crash that destroyed his mind and created Sylvester and bonbon. Phil knew his friends came by every Friday to monitor is sanity and to see if he had let go of the myth of Sylvester. But still, just because he knew, that did not mean he could stop it or even help it – Sylv needed him and he needed Sylv.
Suddenly there were shouts and loud bangs coming from Sam’s room, which was just further down the corridor. Suddenly Phil realised what Michael meant about giving Sam and his friend a visit and dashed out into the corridor, only to be met with Sadiq and Michael holding Sam and Derek by their shirts which had somehow become bloodied.
As if all the years of anger and resentment had hit him at once, Phil laid into Michael and Sadiq, who were simply teenagers and couldn’t take on the brunt of a 34-year-old 6″3 scottish man.
Punching and grappling them with all the zeal of an undergound street fighter, Phil was overwhelmed with the pain of feeling like a victim in his own life and refused to have anyone feeling like that in his own household; to have anyone threaten the safety of Sylv and bonbon, to have anyone destroy his reality.
As his fists became covered with blood, Phil failed to notice Ms Bramley devastated and on her knees crying and begging for him to stop.